Dealignment refers to a secular process of generally eroding political predispositions among the citizens of advanced industrial democracies. The notion that voters' behavior is essentially guided by stable political predispositions dates back to Lazarsfeld's classic study of the 1940 U.S. presidential election. In this pathbreaking analysis, voters' electoral choices could be successfully predicted from a simple “Index of Political Predisposition,” consisting of measures of socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, and place of residence, leading to the conclusion that “a person thinks, politically, as he is, socially. Social characteristics determine political preference.” Lipset and Rokkan's social-historical cleavage model made plausible how long-standing group conflicts structured modern societies, how they became politicized, and how particular groups of voters came to be affiliated with certain parties. Various ways ...

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